The killing of Gebran Tueni is the 14th attack targetting Christian interests in Lebanon since the death of Rafik al-Hariri in February. Tueni is the second journalist to be killed after Samir Kassir died in a car bomb attack in June. That day, Tueni was among the crowd: “This is a message for the whole of Lebanon,” he said, “for the freedom of expression. It’s a message for everyone who believes in the freedom of this country, a message sent by Syria’s totalitarian regime, and Syrian agents in Lebanon.”
Tueni was killed just hours before the UN Security Council was due to receive a report by chief investigator Detlev Mehlis, who has been looking into Hariri’s assassination. His mandate ends on December 15th. One of the main criticisms contained in his report is the lack of effort on the part of Syria. The commission recommends the inquiry be extended at least another six months. So far, it has led to the arrest of four pro-Syrian security chiefs who have been charged with murder. The report also calls on Damascus to arrest another 19 Syrian suspects.
Among them are five leading Syrian officials who were questioned as part of the inquiry last week, including Rustom Ghazale, the former head of Syria’s military intelligence in Lebanon. Damascus has agreed to cooperate with the inquiry but maintains its innocence: In an interview last Friday, President Bashar al-Assad claimed some witnesses had faced pressure to give false evidence. “The commission must rectify these mistakes,” he said, “and write an objective report that will tell the truth about Hariri’s murder and clear Syria of blame.”
Statements which differ from a preliminary report by Mehlis in October which said the evidence pointed towards the involvement of Syrian officials and their Lebanese allies in Hariri’s killing.